Armed groups surviving on illegal mining–experts
Peace and security experts have reiterated the need for an immediate end to illegal exploitation of minerals in the Great Lakes region, saying this it was fuelling activities of armed groups operating in the Democratic Republic of Congo (RDC).
Armed groups, especially the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) militia, have for a long time committed atrocities against innocent civilians in DRC.
In a meeting on illegal exploitation of minerals held in Kampala on Monday, participants of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) said the region’s porous borders have also led to the increase of the vice as perpetrators walk scot-free.
Silas Sinyigaya, in charge of Democracy and Good Governance at ICGLR, said there was need for convergence of national legislations to prosecute perpetrators of economic crimes who transit through different border zones.
“There is a way the revenues from mineral resources illegally exploited in the region are feeding armed groups and this means they cannot be easily destroyed until their permanent source of funding is stopped,” he said.
He added that there were efforts to deliver a regional certificate that will verify that all member states of the region establish the purity of minerals to enable them access to international markets.
“We are specifically focusing on minerals like tin, tungsten and gold as the most valued minerals at the moment in the region that can contribute to the feeding of armed groups,” he said.
The regional certification mechanism will aim at having the minerals certified from their source of origin up to the end users.
During a Special Summit of ICGLR Heads of State on the Fight against Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources held in Lusaka, Zambia in 2010, member states committed themselves to domesticating the Protocol Against the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources in their respective countries.
They also committed to the implementation of the six tools of the Regional Initiative on Natural resources (RINR) including the mechanism on legal harmonization.